Islamabad is the capital of Pakistan, so it’s no surprise that it’s the cleanest, most well maintained and most visually appealing state I’ve been in so far, of all my travels in Pakistan. A captivating yet calm city, I loved the environment here, mostly because you could sit outdoors, with a cup of hot cocoa, and enjoy the quiet, even in the middle of the city! Also, because they receive more foreigners here than almost any other state in Pakistan, they have my people’s food!! I satisfied all the cravings I had for the past month in Islamabad, so, a moment of appreciation for this city. Right, now here are the five places you should definitely drop by while you’re in Islamabad!
1. Shah Faisal Mosque
A gorgeous architectural feat, this uniquely designed mosque does not even have the typical domed shape roof that mosques are usually identified with. Designed by a Turkish architect this contemporary design was inspired by the Bedouin desert tents, and it’s easy to see the resemblance.
Beautiful marble floors stretched across this magnificent structure and it looks picture perfect surrounded by the hills and valleys that encircle Islamabad. A beautiful sight to behold, you can come here to explore and admire the mosque, sit or walk about the gardens, or pray, if you are a Muslim. It isn’t very crowded here, even on the weekends, but don’t turn up during prayer times unless you want to be trampled on!
After visiting the Shah Faisal Mosque, you can easily take a short drive to Daman-e-Koh. This place is a look out point in the middle of Margalla Hills surrounded by wonderful gardens. You can choose to walk or ride the shuttle cart up to the lookout point. Both are great options. I took the shuttle and it was a smooth ride up. You’ll be greeted with green trees and fresh cold air. Perfect for a morning excursion. At the lookout point, you’ll be able to see Islamabad from a bird’s eye view.
You can take your time strolling around Daman-e-Kol, then come back down to the base to taste some of the street food sold there. Best thing is to buy hot Kashmiri tea, shit back and admire the ethereal view that lies before your eyes.
Oh, on your way down, you might encounter some monkeys!
3. Monal Restaurant
This is a restaurant near the peak of Margalla Hills. A splendid place with an even more splendid location. If you choose to dine outside, you’ll be having this for a view.
But, do not do that during winter. Unless you are Russian, or Canadian, where in that case, this advice does not apply.
Food here is amazing… This place is pricy, but you’re getting your money’s worth. Just think about it, you’re at the top of a freaking hill, looking down at the whole of Islamabad, and eating this glorious cheese naan with a freaking massive kebab platter.
It’s the place, to dine, when you come to Islamabad.
4. Pakistan Monument
This is a pretty incredible structure. On the top of Shakarparian Hills in Islamabad, this beautiful petal-shaped monument was erected to symbolize national unity. The four bigger petals represent the four provinces (Balochistan, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab, and Sindh) and the three smaller petals represent the three territories (Gilgit-Baltistan, Azad Kashmir and the Tribal Areas). And if you look closely at the inner walls of the petals, you’ll find the carvings of some of Pakistan’s landmarks. There’s the Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Khyber Pass and Minar-e-Pakistan.
This monument opens up into a marble terrace providing a bird’s-eye view of Islamabad City.
You’ll really enjoy this place, it’s a beautiful, serene, historical site with a fantastic view.
5. Pakistan National Heritage Museum
First thing’s first. There was a monkey show right outside of the museum!
And this little critter loved me! It absolutely did! So much that it would not let go of my leg!
Ok, now that that’s out of the way, let me tell you about the Pakistan National Heritage Museum.
Or otherwise known as the Pakistan National Museum of Ethnology. This is a surprisingly fascinating place to explore. A massive interior, stocked generously with artefacts and collections from all over the world, this place is a gem for those who love their history. Even if you’re not a fan of rustling through old books like my very stereotypical impression of a historian is like, you’ll still find this place very interesting! I sure did! And I was running to the bathroom half the time! (long story which involves train food). There are showcases of Pakistan’s main stream history as well as historical development of the country’s remotest regions, so even Pakistanis themselves will learn a thing or two about their own motherland. You’ll find pieces documenting the development of the Buddhist religion, middle-eastern culture and Pakistani folklore showcased beautifully.
There is history from so many different countries in this museum ranging from Iran to China. I was really impressed and was enjoying myself immensely.
You’d like to know that the main purpose this museum was so carefully built is so that present and future Pakistanis can look back to the past and understand the roots they have in Pakistan.
It truly is a treasure house for the nation that should very much be appreciated.
Islamabad: The Capital of Pakistan does not fail to Impress.
A beautiful city with amazing views, brilliant food, and a superb living environment, I’m really happy I stopped by. Even if it was just for two days. If you are planning to come, note that it is extremely cold here in the winter (Dec to Feb), so bring your heavy jackets. Let me know if I missed out any place worth visiting in my list, would really appreciate it because I might be going back. Anyways, I hope you find my list helpful and have as much fun as I did while I was there! Khuda Hafiz (Bye)!